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Need a doctor? If you're a reservist, you may be SOL

Michigan’s U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz is a doctor and thinks it’s a patriotic duty to deal with the government’s crappy insurance that military families are covered by.

Our health care system sucks — why should people that sacrifice their lives have to be turned away by doctors? It’s the Shame of Bush’s America, part 67897 — reservists can find few doctors willing to accept the military’s health care insurance. After sacrificing for Chimpy’s war follies, this is complete bullsh*t.

Why can’t the military have the same federal health care benefits as Congress, hmmm? (Daily Sentinel):

With thousands of reservists and National Guard members being called to duty, some families are not only left without a spouse’s income, but also their health insurance.

The military provides Tricare, but with low reimbursement rates, many physicians hesitate accepting the government insurance. That has made access to health care difficult for reservist families. Tricare’s $18 billion health plan provides insurance to 9.1 million active-duty military members, their families and military retirees under 65.

We stopped taking it three or four years ago,” said Dr. Susan Blue, a Fort Worth neurologist and president of the Tarrant County Medical Society. “Reimbursement rates are not high these days with anyone, but the military was the first one to go to a point that it wasn’t feasible financially to accept it anymore.”

Access is somewhat easier for families living near a base. But families of mobilized reservists from cities such as Houston may have to search for Tricare doctors.

U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich. and a physician, has called for doctors to accept Tricare as “a patriotic duty.” But physicians find it difficult to do business given Tricare reimbursement rates. The rates are linked to Medicare’s rates, but a 5 percent reduction is expected in January.

Dr. Stephen Brotherton, a past president of the Tarrant County Medical Society and a Fort Worth orthopedic surgeon, said his father, a World War II veteran, gave him grief for not accepting Tricare. “Any of us would love to serve our servicemen, but what they’re paying is well below what we have as a break-even point,” he said. “It would be better for me to actually see them for no charge and not try to participate in the program.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding